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Friday, February 8, 2019

Tribal Drift: International law specialist tells Biya the truths

The presidential election of 7 October 2018 in Cameroon saw the resurgence of ethnic discourse and the revival of tribalism in opinion. On social networks as in the media, the linguistic excesses multiply. Cameroonian political scientist Richard Makon examines this threat for Sputnik France.

The subject made the headlines in the media, on social networks and now feeds conversations in the cottages. In Cameroon, ethnic discourse and the debate on tribalism is gaining momentum in opinion and has been further amplified with the presidential election of 7 October 2018.

All these factors threaten the national unity and make fear the possibility of tribal wars. Dr. Richard Makon, Cameroonian political analyst, specialist in international investment law, consultant in governance, democracy and leadership, researcher in social sciences, analysis for Sputnik climate the revival of tribalism in Cameroon.

Sputnik France: What do you think can explain the rise of tribal discourse in Cameroon since the presidential election of October 2018? 

Richard Makon: "The presidential election of October 7, 2018, behind the scenes as side scene, will have been marked among other things by a resurgence of ethnic discourse and a revival of tribalism, as never Cameroon had known. Political leaders among the most unsuspected, supporters and sympathizers overheated as ordinary citizens, almost nobody during this electoral episode, seemed able to escape this collective hysteria which was deported to the Constitutional Council in favor of electoral dispute.

But in reality, nothing very surprising! For a long time in Cameroon, through policies of exclusion in the administration of public affairs and the management of private enterprises and the hegemonic strategies of certain ethnic groups, the whole society has prepared the ground for this identity crisis. For very long years, the regime in place, through its legal order, for example "the invention" concepts of "indigenous" and "non-native", its institutions, for example the "tribalisation" of certain ministries and other key institutions, and its public policies-the regional equilibrium policy, for example-laid the foundation for this identity divide.

Many are also those Cameroonians, attentive observers of our society, who have long been sounding the alarm on these drifts that weaken our republican harmony, our social cohesion and durably mortgage our living together. From North to South, from East to West, often under the instigation or the instrumentalization of the elite, the attitudes of withdrawal of identity and the acts of intolerance and stigmatization of the "others" multiplied a frantic pace.

The very permanence of the tribalism debate over the last twenty years in the public space (written press, radio, TV, social media on the Internet), both here and in the diaspora, is a sufficient proof of this identity crisis which, with the question of Anglophonie identity, its decisive and most dramatic turning point. The last presidential election simply contributed to the aggravation of the phenomenon and to spread in the eyes of Cameroon, Africa and the whole world, this serious identity crisis which can cause the explosion of the country."

Sputnik France: Who instrumentalizes again the tribal spectrum? Who benefits? 

Richard Makon: "Almost all Cameroonians today, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, by action or by abstention, instrumentalize both the tribal fact and the tribal spectrum. The first actor of this instrumentalization is the State, on the one hand through its policies of exclusion, wrongly described as policies of inclusion, whose most illustrious expression is "the policy of regional balance", regimented by the rulers to justify all forms of tribal, ethnic, social and sociological abuse and discrimination, and secondly through the legal ordering of "indigenous" and "non-indigenous" concepts, which have been "legalized"; are part of the same logic as the concept of "ivoirité", which was at the origin of the Ivorian drama.

The second actor or group of actors is made up of ethnic communities, most of whom have for years been part of a strategy of hegemonism. The objective here is to position the ethnic group as much as possible at the heart of the national chessboard to take advantage of the best positions of representation and to benefit from the biggest part in the redistribution of the rents resulting from the sharing of the "national cake".

Therefore, the weapons mobilized by all are the influence peddling, political-identity alliances, the strategies of instrumentalization of the situations, the events and the social and political facts and especially the blackmail of the number, of the intellectual forces, administrative, security, social, political and economic in order to impose his views and satisfy his claims.

The third group of actors is made up of political parties and civil society, including the forms of construction, constitution, structuring, operation and deployment Essentially, they are hardly moving away from tribal and identity logic. Also, their strategies, their mobilizations and their struggles are generally influenced, or at least inspired, by tribal and identity causes, thus limiting their capacities to gather beyond their original sympathizers.

But who benefits from this instrumentalisation? Certainly to the political and economic elites, traditional and religious, central actors of power in context of post-colony, and in no way to the low people, ordinary citizens, ordinary Cameroonians who live in the same misery that do not distinguish between poor northerners and poor southerners, between miserable English speakers and miserable French speakers, between plebians Maka, Mafa, Kaka, Bamileke, Bulu, Bafia and those Eton, Fulbe, Duala, Bakweri, Ewondo, Bassa, Abo'o [ethnic groups in Cameroon, ed]. Nothing in this instrumentalisation benefits the Cameroonians from below, instrumentalized in this hate contest by their elites and who do not see the results of these struggles and do not benefit from the fallout of this factionalism. "

Sputnik France: to what potential risks is the country exposed?

Richard Makon: "Cameroon collapses progressively under the blows of the withdrawal of identity, ethnic fascism, blind tribalism, dissolving national unity.Human societies have always faced crisis situations. However, in order to solve and overcome them, these societies have always considered that "the enemy is external and the contradictions are internal", because when in a body politic, one or more groups are designated as enemies, or when ethnic groups are positioned as enemies of each other, it is no longer a mere crisis for positioning or affirmation, it is the beginning of the civil war!

All possible risks -secession, inter-communal conflict, popular revolution, challenge of authority and institutions, degradation of the social climate and worsening of the social, humanitarian and economic crisis, etc.- converge towards a single goal, are fruitful to create one and only catastrophe: the civil war! In reality, Cameroon is today on the verge of civil war, the risk of the most serious chaos for a human collectivity, the absolute evil that can face a body politic, a State, whatever its importance and its power . "

Sputnik France: What a threat to national cohesion? 

Richard Makon: "There is no national cohesion without national unity, because national unity is concretized through national cohesion and republican harmony.

National unity refers to the state of cohesion reached by all the human components of a society; it is the situation of a society in which the various entities live in an optimal peace and in permanent harmony. Since the nation designates a human community that is conscious of being united through a social, philosophical, historical and cultural identity, the expression "national unity" can therefore seem redundant, since no nation can consider itself without unity.

However, the concept of "unity" serves to highlight and reinforce the idea of ​​cohesion, harmony and harmony, without which no nation can exist, live or survive.But national unity also suggests a philosophical ambition, a political project, a republican ideal and a societal hope that remain at all times and in all places an unfinished quest, forcing all communities to a precarious victory, because it is incomplete. It is therefore a work of all time, constituting a primordial political instrument and the compass par excellence of orientation of both public policies and the common action of the nation.

It is certainly a question of uniting under the same banner and choosing a common destiny, but also of fighting to defend the land sheltering the flagpole, and of watering every day the flowers that germinate on the soft layer of martyrs of our freedom.

It is an observation, the unity of Cameroon is crumbling today under the onslaught of nepotism, clientelism, prevarication, corruption and embezzlement of public funds, which are all cancers to national cohesion and to the republican concord.But among all these cancers, tribalism is the most serious threat, not only to the cohesion of Cameroon, but also to its survival on the one hand as a territorial and national entity united politically, socially and culturally, on the other hand as a body politic and integrated history.

How can Cameroon, caught in the crossfire, get by? 

Cameroon is today beset with a variety of crises (security, economic, social, moral, etc.), which are as many challenges to its development and whose identity constitutes, for the new elected power, the most urgent to adjust. What is at stake is not the tribe, still less the attachment or the love that it can and must provoke in each of us, each tribe constituting one of the essential links of our identity collective and its various expressions (spiritual, organizational, traditional, artistic, among others) best representing its tribalism. But this "tribalism" must be distinguished from "tribalism", the most retrograde and virulent form of ethnic feeling.

What is at stake is not the ethnicity, but on the one hand the political immaturity of certain elites, the low degree of patriotism and responsibility of many political actors, and on the other hand the imbalance powers, the imperfection of the legal and politico-administrative organization of our young State. "

The most urgent task, because both cyclical and structural, for the State of Cameroon, is the construction of a true nation united in its diversity. This necessarily involves the articulation, via political and institutional engineering, of a better coexistence between the ethno-regional sphere and the republican public sphere, by protecting the right to difference as a base of identity, both "ipseity" And "otherness".